Today’s match between Jamaica and South Africa was the most entertaining of the Games to date, a fast and furious, aerial and physical contest. South Africa led for most of the match, only to be overrun in the final term when Jamaica lifted a gear and kicked away to win 57 – 46. Their result today is likely to propel them into the medal rounds, unless the unthinkable happens and either they or Australia are defeated by a lesser ranked nation.
Preliminary Round, Day 2, Pool A, Gold Coast Commonwealth Games
GS Romelda Aiken
GA Shanice Beckford
WA Khadijah Williams
C Adean Thomas
WD Vangelee Williams
GD Stacian Facey
GK Shamera Sterling
Bench: Nicole Dixon, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid (Captain), Rebekah Robinson, Paula Thompson, Jodi-Ann Ward.
Coach: Sasha-Gaye Henry and Marvette Anderson
2nd Quarter – Paula Thompson to C
3rd Quarter – Jhaniele Fowler-Reid to GS, Nicole Dixon to WA,
During injury time, Jodi-Ann Ward to WD, Vangalee Williams from WD to GD.
GS Sigrid Burger
GA Maryka Holtzhausen
WA Bongiwe Msomi (c)
C Erin Burger
WD Precious Mthembu
GD Karla Pretorius
GK Phumza Maweni
Bench: Zanele Vimbela, Ine-Mari Venter, Izette Griesel, Renske Stoltz, Shadine van der Merwe.
Coach: Norma Plummer
3rd Quarter – Ine-Marie Ventner to GS
Umpires: Gary Burgess (Eng), Michelle Phippard (Aus), Helen George (Aus).
The game was a tough, gritty encounter from the start, with neither side allowing an easy ball to the opposition. The heavy physical contest was particularly noticeable in the South African defensive end, with the team picking up 91 penalties compared to Jamaica’s 48. Both teams played a strong aerial game, although South Africa tried to revert back to their short, sharp game to counteract Jamaica’s athleticism.
Sigrid Burger started at goal shooter for South Africa. She mixed up her hold with movement outside the circle, clearing space for Maryka Holtzhausen to drive into. It was a dominant start from South Africa’s goal attack, more used to playing a supporting role to the injured Lenize Potgieter. Burger tired against the constant vigilance of Jamaica’s stand-out keeper, Shamera Sterling, who finished the game with five intercepts and seven deflections.
Goals started to dry up for South Africa: after shooting 15 in the first quarter they were restricted to just 7 in the second. Jamaica lifted their defensive tempo, forcing a number of communication break downs between the South African feeders and their targets. Ine-Mari Ventner was introduced at goal shooter for the third quarter, and used her hold and drop to good effect.
At the opposite end of the court, Karla Pretorius (GD) and Precious Mthembu (WD) were instrumental in stifling the Jamaican attack with their close marking, particularly nullifying Jamaican wing attack Khadijah Williams in the early stages of the game. However, they had a difficult battle against the height of both Romelda Aiken (1st half) and Jhaniele Fowler-Reid, who were both dominant in the goal circle.
Of particular interest was the battle between the two mid-courts. South Africa had the upper hand early in the game, with Erin Burger at centre close to player of the match. She drove hard through out court, creating play, and linked beautifully with her dynamic captain, Bongiwe Msomi. The introduction of Jamaican Paula Thomson to centre, and then Nicole Dixon to WA, saw the tide turn in their favour, as they found their shooters with greater ease.
It was fascinating watching South African strategy with star shooter Lenise Potgeiter missing. Their wing and goal defence did a power of work bringing the ball down court into attack, the centre and wing attack played more across the transverse line, freeing up the shooters to remain mostly in the goal third.
With Jamaican fans vocal, drawing the crowd along with them, the atmosphere lifted as the game went on. While South Africa remained in control for much of the match, they visibly tired in the last, Jamaica lifted their intensity and ran away with an 11-goal win. A hefty pass into Fowler-Reid who goaled in the final second of the game lifted the roof, with the Jamaican players celebrating after the match.
Jamaica: Romelda Aiken 13/16 81%, Shanice Beckford 15/20 75%, Jhaniele Fowler-Reid 29/31 94%
South Africa: Sigrid Burger 15/15 100%, Maryka Holtzhausen 12/18 67%, Ine-Mari Ventner 19/23 83%
WHAT THEY SAID AFTER THE GAME:
Paula Thompson (Jamaica)
What did you have to do when you came on in the second quarter? “We had to slow it down in attack and be patient, take it to the shooters instead of forcing it from long”.
What is the difference between Jhaniele and Romelda? “Both are tall, but Jhaniele will stand and hold her position a little bit more, where Romelda will give movement. When they’re on court you have to hold the ball and wait a bit, and Romelda especially, see what she’s doing.”
How did you rate South Africa’s defence today? “They worked really hard today and the goal defence really stepped up her game, so the goal keeper stood tall, and we had to work really hard out there.”
What do you think of Erin Burger, matching up against her for about a decade? “She’s a great player, and every time I come up against her it’s always a battle.”
How is your relationship with Sasher-Gaye Henry now she’s your coach instead of your teammate? “When it’s coaching time we know we’re no longer teammates. We definitely show her a lot of respect. She’s awesome as a coach, she knows when to take it down a bit, and also when to be strict. She’s telling me to focus on my drives going down, and to be disciplined in terms of my passes.”
Vangalee Williams (Jamaica)
What are the benefits of having a scare early in the tournament? “It gives us more confidence that we can come from behind and stick to what we are good at: being patient, taking care of the ball, and feeding to our shooters who are very much capable. We continue on that path and raise the bar each time we play.”
How do you feel about the combination of the three in defence working together? “The fact that the three of us came from Under-21, I think that is where the camaraderie and cohesiveness is coming from. Ever since we’ve been working in different clubs and leagues together. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so we keep picking up where any one of us is lacking.”
What were your instructions when you moved from WD to GD? “To take out the goal attack! Because she was shooting a lot, so the coaches said to stay closer to her, and prevent her from getting shots. I think that’s actually what I did. At the end of the game you didn’t see her as much, and that was a plus for me. We were hungry for it, we knew the win was needed tonight.”
Norma Plummer (coach, South Africa)
How did you rate the game tonight? “After all that we’ve been through losing Lenise Potgeiter, then losing Danelle, having a player in quarantine, I thought what’s happening here? We’re struggling. But the two new young shooters that we’ve brought in, I’m really proud of them. They are never going to learn quicker. But we gave Jamaica a big run, they’re on fire at the moment.”
What did you learn from tonight? “When we’ve got new ones in, that sustained pressure, that’s what they’ve got to learn to handle.”
“The pressure of putting in the wrong ball at the wrong time, and Jamaica, I think they took us pretty lightly. I think they got a shock. They haven’t seen South Africa playing, but then they took it up another notch at the end. Their aerial skills are fabulous of course.”
South Africa have made significant gains on the world stage. “We’re really trying to build depth in South Africa, we haven’t got it to pull from. Jamaica have eight players playing out in the international arena.”
“We’ve got our two in Australia, one in New Zealand and this year we hope to have four in England. That will help starting to help, with the competition, which we don’t have at home.”
Erin Berger (South Africa)
How did you see the match unfold? “We started quite well. It was a tough match. I think a lot of credit has to go to Jamaica as they put us under a lot of pressure, and forced us to play more in the air than we wanted, and they are good in the air. There is a lot to learn from this match. I’m frustrated.”
How unsettling was it losing two players just before the Games started? “It’s unfortunate as Lenise is a great player, but it’s a great opportunity for the young players, and I think they did a great job stepping up.”
“Our team is very close and it made us even closer. We need each other, and we need to stick together, stick to the plan, and when we did that we were in the game. It’s just if we lose that control, we gave Jamaica the chance to get a score up on us.”
What did you learn from this game? “Stick to the short and sharp, it works for us particularly against a taller team. We don’t want the ball that much in the air.”
“We had good connections, there is a lot we can take from the game.”
Bongiwe Msomi (captain, South Africa)
You had a close match against Australia recently. What did you take from that? “We gained confidence from that. A few years ago we would lose by a 30 or 40 goal margin, but when we last played against them we only lost by four goals, so that was a great motivation for this side. We are taking it game by game.”
“We are seven players on court, they are seven players on court, so we will try and polish where we went wrong today.”
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